August 2009


The following information comes from a lecture I attended of William Lane Craig:

Religious pluralists often argue that there is a contradiction between the premise that “God is all-loving/powerful” and “some do not hear the Gospel and will be lost.”

To see them as contradictory there must be one of two hidden assumptions:

  1. If God is all powerful He can create a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and is freely saved.
  2. If God is all-loving, He prefers a world in which everybody hears the Gospel and is freely saved.

I will show that such is not the case, and argue that they are logically compatible.

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Moral relativists who complain about the problem of evil are complaining about something, that on their own ontology, does not exist.  This makes as much sense as a man without a car complaining that it won’t start: It doesn’t exist, and yet it’s claimed to be broken.

RusePhilosopher of science, Michael Ruse, recently had a few choice words to say about the New Atheists:

Let me say that I believe the new atheists do the side of science a grave disservice. I will defend to the death the right of them to say what they do – as one who is English-born one of the things I admire most about the USA is the First Amendment. But I think first that these people do a disservice to scholarship. Their treatment of the religious viewpoint is pathetic to the point of non-being. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion would fail any introductory philosophy or religion course. Proudly he criticizes that whereof he knows nothing. As I have said elsewhere, for the first time in my life, I felt sorry for the ontological argument. If we criticized gene theory with as little knowledge as Dawkins has of religion and philosophy, he would be rightly indignant. (He was just this when, thirty years ago, Mary Midgeley went after the selfish gene concept without the slightest knowledge of genetics.) Conversely, I am indignant at the poor quality of the argumentation in Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and all of the others in that group. … I have written elsewhere that The God Delusion makes me ashamed to be an atheist. Let me say that again. Let me say also that I am proud to be the focus of the invective of the new atheists. They are a bloody disaster and I want to be on the front line of those who say so.

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PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) people typically oppose the idea of human exceptionalism: that humans are qualitatively different from, and qualitatively superior to animals.  Such thinking explains their ad campaigns like “Holocaust on a Plate,” in which they compare eating chicken to the extermination of Jews by Hitler.  While PETA people may deny human exceptionalism with their lips—and often with their deeds—I would venture to say that most of them do not truly believe humans and animals are morally equivalent.

I came up with a question you can ask a PETA person that will either help them see that they don’t really believe humans and animals are moral equals, or help you expose their moral confusion for what it is.  Ask him/her, “Do you believe it is ok to sell a dog?”  If they say no, then they really do believe in the moral equivalence of humans and animals.  My guess, however, is that most will say yes.  If they do, proceed to ask them, “Do you believe it is ok to sell people?”  If they say no, then they haven’t completely abandoned the idea of human exclusivism.  In some sense they understand that humans are more valuable than animals.  Of course, they might respond with a second yes, in which case their moral sense is in worse shape than we thought!

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Many who claim that homosexuality is morally benign claim that same-sex attraction is “in their genes.”  Does this appeal to biological determinism help their case?  No.  No moral truth follows from biological truth.  Even if it were true that same-sex attraction was biologically determined (something for which there is no solid evidence), it would no more follow that homosexuality is, therefore, morally benign, than it would follow that pedophilia is morally benign if a genetic link to pedophilia was discovered.

Furthermore, if biologically predisposed/determined behaviors are excused from moral condemnation, then on what basis could bigotry against homosexuals be condemned if the desire to discriminate against homosexuals is caused by one’s genes?  If hatred of homosexuality is biologically determined, and thus it is morally benign.  After all, such a person would be born that way!  Surely no one would buy this argument, and yet it is logically equivalent to the argument that homosexuality is morally benign because it is biologically determined.  If we have reason to reject one form of the argument, we have reason to reject the other.  The fact of the matter is that biology tells us nothing about morality.

Self-DeceptionGreg Ten Elshof just released an interesting book titled I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life.  Greg is a professor of philosophy at Biola University, and did his doctoral research in the area of self-knowledge and self-deception.  During an interview with the Evangelical Philosophical Society, Greg offered a great definition and explanation of self-deception:

To be self-deceived is to intentionally manage one’s own beliefs for some purpose other than the pursuit of truth. It’s worth noting that, given this characterization, one can be self-deceived in believing what is true. One can even be self-deceived in believing something that is true and for which one has evidence. Self-deception occurs most often when there is an emotional attachment to believing in a particular direction. It often involves the management of attention away from evidence that would disrupt the desired belief. And it seems to be capable of achieving greater distances from truth and rationality in groups than in the individual. It was Nietzsche, I believe, who said that insanity is rare in the individual but the rule in groups.

How true this is!  That is why I am a strong proponent of the virtues of intellectual honesty, openness, and integrity.  We cannot get so emotionally attached to any doctrine that we are unwilling to consider the possibility that it may be mistaken, and unwilling to examine evidence against it. 

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All of us tend to think of ourselves as good persons.  This assessment is largely true.  All of us are capable of, and often do many good things.  But if we’re honest with ourselves, this isn’t the whole story.  All of us are equally capable of evil, even if we are unequally guilty of evil.  Sure, you and I are not as bad as Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler.  Compared to them we are saints, relatively speaking.  But how do we stack up when compared to God?

God is a morally perfect being.  He requires that we be morally perfect as well, and yet we aren’t.  Whether our acts of evil are big or small, many or few, they are all violations of God’s moral perfection, and these violations have consequences.  Even if you only committed one sin per day between the ages of six and 75, that adds up to more than 25,000 violations of God’s moral law!  If you were guilty of breaking that many human laws, no judge could ignore it.  How, then, can we expect the God of perfect justice to turn a blind eye to our moral failures?  While God is a God of love, He is also a God of justice and cannot ignore these violations.  Acts of moral evil are deserving of punishment (death), and no amount of good works we do can negate those acts.  That’s bad news for you and me!  But Christianity offers a solution, and hope.

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